Photography FAQ #2

Big thanks to our readers for continuously sending questions to us and participating in the comments section of our blog. We truly value your feedback and we do our best to respond to your queries as soon as we can. Here is the compiled list of FAQs from the last two weeks:

  1. What is the best lens for child photography?
    Our readers with families love our family photographs (thank you!) and occasionally ask me what lenses work best for photographing children, especially indoors. Most of the family pictures that we have are taken with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens and we use it more than any other lens both indoors and outdoors. Photographing kids is a challenging task (even with fast lenses) because children often move way too fast. Having a fast aperture lens helps to focus a little better in dim environments and also does a great job in isolating children from the background. Another lens that we have been raving a lot about lately, is the Nikon 35mm f/1.8. While it is not as superb as the 50mm f/1.4, it is still a pretty darn good lens on a DX body and super sharp at only $200 brand new. One more thing – if you are planning to photograph your children indoors a lot, I highly recommend purchasing an external flash unit like the Nikon SB-600 or SB-900. You can get great results by simply bouncing the flash off the walls and ceilings of your house and freeze motion.
  2. Should I buy Nikon D3000 or Nikon D5000?
    Despite the fact that there is a $200 difference between the two cameras, I always suggest our readers to get the Nikon D5000 over D3000. Why? Because the sensor on the Nikon D5000 is superior and much more capable compared to the sensor on the Nikon D3000. The most important thing in a camera is the sensor and the sensor on the Nikon D5000 is identical to the sensor on the Nikon D90 semi-professional camera. So, the image quality on the Nikon D5000 matches the image quality of the Nikon D90 – the difference is only in features and body design.
  3. What is the difference between the older Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR and the newer Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II?
    Optically, both lenses are identical. Because the older Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR had a problem with lens creep (pointing the lens down would start extending the barrel and zooming in), Nikon introduced a lock switch that locks the barrel in place on the newer Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II. Everything else is the same, including Vibration Reduction technology.
  4. Can I use Nikon SB-600 as a commander?
    Unfortunately, you cannot. You will need a Nikon SB-800 (no longer manufactured) or Nikon SB-900 to be able to command other flashes. Nikon SB-600 works perfectly as a slave though. By the way, if you own a Nikon D70/D70s/D80/D90/D300/D300s/D700 camera, you can use the built-in flash as a commander! Just go to your flash menu settings and set your camera flash as a commander and set your SB-600 as a slave and give it a shot – it works like a charm!
  5. How big is the difference between a 200mm and 300mm lens?
    Check out the focal length comparison article I wrote a long time ago that shows the difference between 200mm and 300mm. You can also see the difference between wide-angle and telephoto lenses there.
  6. Is the new Nikon 70-200mm VR II good for sports photography?
    Absolutely, as long as you are shooting from a close distance. If your subjects are more than 10 feet away, I recommend getting a longer lens instead. Keep in mind that due to a change in optics, the new Nikon 70-200mm at 200mm is more like a 135mm lens at close-focus distance. The problem goes away as you increase the distance between yourself and the subject, but it is still quite noticeable compared to the original 70-200mm lens.
  7. How does the Nikon 70-300mm VR compare to the Nikon 70-200mm VR?
    Well, the biggest difference, first of all, is the price – the Nikon 70-200mm is around $2K more expensive than the 70-300mm. Second, the 70-200mm lens is a professional-grade lens for sports and news photographers, while the 70-300mm is a consumer lens. Third, 70-200mm is a constant f/2.8 aperture lens, while the 70-300mm lens is a variable aperture lens (at 70mm it is f/4.5, while at 300mm it is f/5.6). Fourth, if you do a comparison between 70 and 200mm, the 70-200mm lens will obviously beat the 70-300mm in both sharpness and contrast. Fifth, due to a completely different optical and lens design, there is a huge difference in weight and size between the lenses. Lastly, the 70-300mm gives far more reach than the 70-200mm VR II at the long end. Overall, it is unfair to compare these two lenses – it is like comparing a Ferrari with a Toyota.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Have a good day!


  1. March 8, 2010 at 7:00 am

    The D70 also has a commander mode, I use it often. I have a non-VR 70-300mm (was $120ish new). I got to play with a friend’s newer AF-S, VR 70-300mm on his D60. I was hoping the autofocus would be closer to the 70-200mm in performance due to the AF-S addition, but in reality, it was a lot closer in performance to my non AF-S version on the D70. That was disappointing to me. I wonder how much of that was due to the D60’s autofocusing system? Would the 70-300mm AF-S perform a lot better on a D300 or D700? I would not expect it to be on par with an f/2.8 lens of course, just a lot better than my non AF-S version.

    • March 8, 2010 at 6:36 pm

      Aaron, you are awesome! Thanks so much for pointing it out – I added D70/D70s to the camera list above.

      And yes, the autofocus performance of the Nikon 70-300mm VR is nowhere close to the performance of the 70-200mm.

      I also have a good friend that owns the non-VR version of the 70-300mm lens and he provided very similar feedback. The autofocus performance on cameras without built-in motors is slightly slower when compared to cameras with a motor. Having a more powerful camera with a higher capacity battery also helps to improve autofocus performance. Also, AF-S does not always mean faster autofocus. For example, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens is actually slower than the older Nikon 50mm f/1.4D, even though it is “AF-S”.

      • 1.1.1) Aaron Priest
        March 13, 2010 at 7:03 pm

        That’s puzzling Nasim… I always assumed AF-S would be faster than screw-type autofocus off the camera. Very interesting…

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 14, 2010 at 10:45 am

          I had also thought AF-S was faster, but the 50mm AF-S proves that it is not always the case…

  2. 2) sm
    March 8, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Thanks again. Very helpful for beginners like me.

    I do use the 35 mm 1.8 and the issue sometimes when photographing people or pets ( in my case), you have to be closer, say as compared to the 50 mm lenses. Thats why some people even prefer the 85 mm lenses, I guess.

    Also, I have the new 18-200, and that too creeps. It has a lock switch which prevents creep at 18 mm, but not anything beyond. That being said, my lens creeps only beyond 40 mm when holding it down. Its a bit irritating. But I really like it as an all purpose lens for travel.

    • March 8, 2010 at 6:46 pm

      SM, you are welcome! Well, having a longer lens is not necessarily good either. In the past (before 35mm f/1.8 was announced), I used to suggest everyone to get the Nikon 50mm lenses. Their main complaint was that 50mm was too close and they couldn’t fit much :) 85mm lenses are superb, but they are specialty lenses and are great for outdoors portraits. Mounted on a Nikon DX body, 85mm can feel too long, equivalent of a 130mm lens.

      Overall, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 is a superb lens though. It is not too close or too far on a DX body and I really like its size, weight and performance :)

  3. 3) shams
    March 13, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Hi Nasim aka, just want to ask about ISO sensitivity settings on my D5000 please. (I have got some problems with current settings on “A” mode)

    ISO Sensitivity is: 250 and if ISO AUTO CONTROL is OFF, all photos’ ISO’s are 250, if AUTO Control is ON, then it always takes photos with maximum sensitivity which is currently 1600. (never below 1600, regardless of the light, shutter speed or Aperture)
    Is there any other way of controlling it?
    thanks a lot.

  4. March 13, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Shams, if you are in A mode that is Aperture Priority. If you have your aperture set very small (high number, f/11, f/13, f/22, etc.) then you are getting very good depth of field, but very little light coming in. Depending on available light and shutter speed, you may need a very high ISO to compensate for such little light. If it’s a sunny day outside and you’ve tried a wider aperture (say f/5.6 or smaller number), you should see the shutter speed raise and ISO drop in A mode. Otherwise I’d guess there’s something very wrong. Maybe there’s another setting I’m unaware of on a D5000 that others could chime in on. What happens in P mode (Program)?

  5. 5) shams
    March 14, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Thanks a lot Aaron,
    But my Aperure priority photos’ ISO’s are always 1600(current maximum). Light, f numbers culd not change it at all. :(

    • March 14, 2010 at 10:32 am

      Shams, I bet your “Minimum Shutter Speed” in Auto ISO settings is some large number. Try changing it to like 1/50th of a second and see what happens.

      Also, if you are turning Auto ISO off and your ISO is set to 250, it means that you manually changed your ISO to 250 from 200. Just go to Auto ISO settings and set your ISO sensitivity to 200 (which is your base ISO) and you should be set.

      Hope this helps.

  6. 6) Sudhir
    December 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm


    May I know? the third party lenses like Tamron or Sigma are good with Nikon D3100 and produce good quality images ? or I should stick to Nikon lense?


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